Sunday, January 24, 2010

Happy Deja Vu - Packed like Sardines!!

Exams!! Can you imagine having to take a 3.5 hour long one after years of writing little more than scrawling your name across a paper or occasionally taking copious notes at a 15 minute press conference? Well, that's the reason for the lull in my 'post'-production - that's a cheap tribute by the way, to my erstwhile specialisation in broadcast journalism and video production!! So now, that my travels through the countryside have wound up, did you think I gave up travelling for good? The snowfall did keep me in Brighton for longer than I thought..and then the exam and submissions... But this week, I went back to London... The visit was prompted by the arrival of a close friend from India...But this visit of mine once again reminded me of the bustling metropolis I left behind.... On a Saturday, try getting into a tube on any line of the London Underground. If you want to grind out your misery, try the Northern Line - ('s said to be the oldest line on the map, and does it act out its age or what!!). Well, it's most often truncated in fits and bursts between weird and funny sounding stations like Angel and Mornington Crescent - and for those who have to make a journey there, guess what the London Rail people say under their breath of course as they make repeated announcements over the public announcement system " Well tough luck, try the bus stops, they are quite close to the exits of the station. You will get to your destination - eventually.." I had to make my way to Old Street from Victoria...two different lines...and trying to move from one to the other is like trying to march to two different tunes alternately... Hmm...for those who don't know London it's kind of difficult to understand what I mean...See from Victoria which is on Victoria line, you need to swap at some point to the Northern Line and if you don't decide your stop right ( Psst.....again...I never get it right automatically!) you might just have to hop out and get on another train, coz the line forks into two and there is no knowing which line you stumbled into...they all meet up at some station though!! Ok, here's a map just to give you an idea...Mind you, the intention is not to confuse you, so just look at the different colours..that's how many lines can be possibly hoped...Mumbaikars aren't you thankful there are just three lines to worry about in our constantly abused but misused system??? So some back-ing and fro-thing ( well, literally so that I'm not accused of resorting to Indian stretchable time!) I make it.... Now the truth is I tried to find an Indian equivalent...say like having to go to Charni Road in Mumbai from maybe Vashi in Navi Mumbai...Hop lines and all that jazz?? But frankly, I'd do the London's better explained and the surge of humanity is more polite and does not shove...though the surge of humanity on a Saturday evening is no less than Mumbai peak time.. And considering that I'm just of proud Indian-standard height which is nothing to write home about...a measly 5 feet 3 struggling inches, here I was standing in the crook of someone's armpit looking through the enlarged nasal passage of yet another one, trying to rescue my butt from something poking out of the 'lady behind me's shopping bag....and that's when it hit me....Deja Vu!!!! How many times have I done this merging my self into the faceless population on a train journey in Mumbai?? Well, lost count...and here was my count register in the United Kingdom beginning with a similar experience...With one big difference...In India, I can suss out train stations with my eyes closed...gut instinct and then the distinct smell of different localities - like the smell of glucose biscuits as you cross towards Vile Parle and the distinct 'only Kurla muck special' on Central Line...But here in London, I crane to catch a glimpse of the little flashing messages of which stations approach, even as my ears try to pick out the announcements over the din... The new Mumbai local trains have installed an audio-visual system for announcing stops...I never appreciated it then...I do now...Miss the train journey from Andheri to Lower Parel...and the occasional traipse through South Mumbai to Nariman Point... How many would walk out of an extremely crowded train after some difficulty wriggling out at the stop before the doors closed? I'm thinking not many British...but one Indian was... Made me feel just at home.....London tubes have begun giving me happy Deja Vus....especially when you travel packed like Sardines...


  1. I'm pretty sure that Angel has the longest single escalator on the London Underground; pretty sure too that there's footage on YouTube of somebody strapping on skis and skiing down it. By the way, the Bakerloo Line is another one of those to-be-avoided undergorund lines.

  2. I like the comparative analysis of Mumbai locals and London tubes. Maybe, there's stuff for a term paper hiding soemwhere here, Deepthy.

    I'll describe in some blog my recent trips to Mumbai, where I did permutations and combinations of walking, bus and train, rickshaw and taxi, to get to my school where I studied during 1961-63.

    Getting back to looking at blogs, FB notes, status messages.... See more
    Generally, strolling again on the Net.

    Peace and love,
    - Joe.

  3. hey nice one deeps ... some similarities here.. must confess i havent travelled in london tubes in peak time .. but otherwise i found them real fun and easy to use .... now i cant do a crossword puzzle if my life rested on it .. but my little brain does comprehend the colourful map... and i enjoy that as well... wish i could have a full day out ... See morejust with friends and then tour the whole length and breadth of london tubes someday .. oneday.....
    keep your deja vus coming ... brill food for thought ... :-)))

  4. hahaha deeps i love this..especially how ur trying to get ur space in all the rush...well the difference would be here in his rush u might not feel strange hands probing everywhere!eh?hehhehee

  5. Deepthy try getting on to the tube (especially the Central Line) on a weekday morning to work. All that phony politeness gives way to shoves and the stiff upper lips are forced open into furious roars!!! :-)

  6. hey, you know... i saw New York, I love you yesterday. And then I read your note. Now, Im thinking, when they make the Mumbai edition... you must pitch in with a love story that's set on travelling in the metro - on the local, the bus, the taxi... ill offer to direct it for u ;)

  7. Interesting read menon...been travelling a bit on the trains again this time and didn't realise i was missing it, till i got on one....its a complete experience in itself.

    Also i think what makes this comparision more interesting slash amusing are the lovely names line 'Angel' and 'Mornington Crescent' harking back to a time no more. And even we ... See morehave our Indian equivalents to them Lower Parel and Victoria Terminus...who else but the British could have invented these? :-)

    PS: like Mayu's take it up!

  8. It is deja vu when you are out of is deadly kungfu if you are still in the phase of taking mumbai local trains. I have done trips from borivilli to lower parel...for most part of the year gone by...enough...i am so glad im getting out of this city.

    I guess perceptions differ. Whatever it is...wherever it is...i do need my space :)

    But it is a lovely comparison of the two cities that you've post produced here...i have never been to london...if i do someday i know what to expect :) thanks for that deepus.